Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Coherent control of the waveforms of recoilless γ-ray photons


The concepts and ideas of coherent, nonlinear and quantum optics have been extended to photon energies in the range of 10–100 kiloelectronvolts, corresponding to soft γ-ray radiation (the term used when the radiation is produced in nuclear transitions) or, equivalently, hard X-ray radiation (the term used when the radiation is produced by electron motion). The recent experimental achievements in this energy range include the demonstration of parametric down-conversion in the Langevin regime1, electromagnetically induced transparency in a cavity2, the collective Lamb shift3, vacuum-assisted generation of atomic coherences4 and single-photon revival in nuclear absorbing multilayer structures5. Also, realization of single-photon coherent storage6 and stimulated Raman adiabatic passage7 were recently proposed in this regime. More related work is discussed in a recent review8. However, the number of tools for the coherent manipulation of interactions between γ-ray photons and nuclear ensembles remains limited. Here we suggest and implement an efficient method to control the waveforms of γ-ray photons coherently. In particular, we demonstrate the conversion of individual recoilless γ-ray photons into a coherent, ultrashort pulse train and into a double pulse. Our method is based on the resonant interaction of γ-ray photons with an ensemble of nuclei with a resonant transition frequency that is periodically modulated in time. The frequency modulation, which is achieved by a uniform vibration of the resonant absorber, owing to the Doppler effect, renders resonant absorption and dispersion both time dependent, allowing us to shape the waveforms of the incident γ-ray photons. We expect that this technique will lead to advances in the emerging fields of coherent and quantum γ-ray photon optics, providing a basis for the realization of γ-ray-photon/nuclear-ensemble interfaces and quantum interference effects at nuclear γ-ray transitions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Energy scheme of emission and resonant absorption of a 14.4-keV photon.
Figure 2: Experimental set-up for γ-photon waveform control.
Figure 3: Shaping of γ-photon.
Figure 4: Pulses of Mössbauer radiation.


  1. Shwartz, S. et al. X-ray parametric down-conversion in the Langevin regime. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 013602 (2012)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Röhlsberger, R., Wille, H.-C., Schlage, K. & Sahoo, B. Electromagnetically induced transparency with resonant nuclei in a cavity. Nature 482, 199–203 (2012)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Röhlsberger, R., Schlage, K., Sahoo, B., Couet, S. & Rüffer, R. Collective Lamb shift in single-photon superradiance. Science 328, 1248–1251 (2010)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Heeg, K. P. et al. Vacuum-assisted generation and control of atomic coherences at x-ray energies. Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 073601 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Shakhmuratov, R., Vagizov, F. & Kocharovskaya, O. Single γ-photon revival and radiation burst in a sandwich absorber. Phys. Rev. A 87, 013807 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Liao, W.-T., Pálffy, A. & Keitel, C. H. Coherent storage and phase modulation of single hard-X-ray photons using nuclear excitons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 197403 (2012)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Liao, W.-T., Pálffy, A. & Keitel, C. H. Nuclear coherent population transfer with X-ray laser pulses. Phys. Lett. B 705, 134–138 (2011)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Adams, B. W. et al. X-ray quantum optics. J. Mod. Opt. 60, 2–21 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Ma, X.-S. et al. Quantum teleportation over 143 kilometres using active feed-forward. Nature 489, 269–273 (2012)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Döring, F. et al. Sub-5 nm hard X-ray point focusing by a combined Kirkpatrick-Baez mirror and multilayer zone plate. Opt. Express 21, 19311–19323 (2013)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Hammerer, K., Sørensen, A. S. & Polzik, E. S. Quantum interface between light and atomic ensembles. Rev. Mod. Phys. 82, 1041–1093 (2010)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Hoy, G. R., Hamill, D. W. & Wintersteiner, P. P. in Mössbauer Effect Methodology Vol. 6 (ed. Gruverman, I. J. ) 109–121 (Plenum, 1970)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Amann, J. et al. Demonstration of self-seeding in a hard-X-ray free-electron laser. Nature Photon. 6, 693–698 (2012)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Shvyd’ko, Stoupin, S., Blank, V. & Terentyev, S. Near-100% Bragg reflectivity of X-rays. Nature Photon. 5, 539–542 (2011)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. Antonov, V. A., Radeonychev, Y. V. & Kocharovskaya, O. Formation of a single attosecond pulse via interaction of resonant radiation with a strongly perturbed atomic transition. Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 213903 (2013)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Helistö, P., Tittonen, I. & Katila, T. Enhanced transient effects due to saturated absorption of recoilless γ-radiation. Phys. Rev. B 34, 3458–3461 (1986)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Smirnov, G. V. & Potzel, W. Perturbation of nuclear excitons by ultrasound. Hyperfine Interact. 123/124, 633–663 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Kuznetsova, E., Kolesov, R. & Kocharovskaya, O. Compression of γ-ray photons into ultrashort pulses. Phys. Rev. A 68, 043825 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. Smirnov, G. V. General properties of nuclear resonant scattering. Hyperfine Interact. 123/124, 31–77 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kagan Theory of coherent phenomena and fundamentals in nuclear resonant scattering. Hyperfine Interact. 123/124, 83–126 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Hannon, J. P. & Trammell, G. T. Coherent gamma-ray optics. Hyperfine Interact. 123/124, 127–274 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Kolchin, P., Belthangady, C., Du, S., Yin, G. Y. & Harris, S. E. Electro-optic modulation of single photons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 103601 (2008)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  23. Pittman, T. It’s a good time for time-bin qubits. Physics 6, 110 (2013)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Röhlsberger, R. Nuclear Condensed Matter Physics using Synchrotron Radiation (Springer Tracts Mod. Phys. 208, Springer, 2005)

    Book  Google Scholar 

  25. Radeonychev, Y. V., Tokman, M. D., Litvak, A. G. & Kocharovskaya, O. Acoustically induced transparency in optically dense resonance medium. Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 093602 (2006)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Kocharovskaya, O. A. & Khanin, Ya. I. Population trapping and coherent bleaching of a three-level medium by a periodic train of ultrashort pulses. Sov. Phys. JETP 63, 945–949 (1986)

    Google Scholar 

  27. Harris, S. E. Electromagnetically induced transparency. Phys. Today 50, 36–42 (1997)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Fleischhauer, M., Imamoğlu, A. & Marangos, J. P. Electromagnetically induced transparency: optics in coherent media. Rev. Mod. Phys. 77, 633–673 (2005)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Lvovsky, A. I., Sanders, B. C. & Tittel, W. Optical quantum memory. Nature Photon. 3, 706–714 (2009)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Simon, C. et al. Quantum memories. Eur. Phys. J. D 58, 1–22 (2010)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We acknowledge the support from the US NSF (grant no. PHY-1307346), the RFBR (grants nos 13-02-00831 and 12-02-00263) and The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (contract no. 11.G34.31.0011). V.A. acknowledges support from the Dynasty Foundation.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



F.V. developed the experimental methods, designed the experiment and derived all the experimental results. V.A., Y.V.R. and R.N.S. developed the theoretical description. V.A. and F.V. determined the optimal parameters for the experiments and provided the theoretical fit to experimental data. Y.V.R. and F.V. suggested the technique for observing the single-photon waveforms. R.N.S. obtained analytical solutions for some limiting cases. O.K. suggested the idea, coordinated the efforts and wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and edited the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Olga Kocharovskaya.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Time dependences of a γ-photon detection probability for different values of modulation index.

The values of modulation index are p = 0.8 (blue dashed line), p = 1.8 (red solid line) and p = 2.8 (green dashed line). All the other parameters are the same as in our experiment (Fig. 3).

Extended Data Figure 2 Time dependences of a γ-photon detection probability for different detunings of the central frequency of the source, ωr, from the resonance frequency of the absorber, ωa.

The values of detuning are ωr − ωa = 0.5Ω (blue dashed line), ωr − ωa = Ω (red solid line) and ωr − ωa = 2Ω (green dashed line). All the other parameters are the same as in our experiment (Fig. 3).

Extended Data Figure 3 Variation of the waveform of a 14.4-keV γ-photon with a change in the vibration phase, , at the moment of detection of the preceding 122-keV γ-photon.

The parameter values are the same as in Fig. 3c, corresponding to double-pulse formation, except for the initial phases of vibration, which are as follows: , the same as in Fig. 3c (red solid line), (blue dashed line), (the same as in the inset of Fig. 3c (green dashed line)) and (cyan dashed line).

Extended Data Figure 4 Waveforms of 14.4-keV γ-photons produced at different frequencies of vibration, Ω.

The parameter values are the same as in Fig. 3c, corresponding to double-pulse (time-bin qubit) formation, except for the vibration frequencies, which are as follows: Ω/2π = 1.3 MHz (green dashed line), Ω/2π = 2.6 MHz (the same as in Fig. 3c (red solid line)) and Ω/2π = 5.2 MHz (blue dashed line).

Extended Data Figure 5 Count rate of 14.4-keV photons versus time for the case of Fig. 4.

The blue dots centred at the confidence intervals correspond to the experimental data, and the red and green solid curves are plotted according to equations (13) and (14) and, respectively, equation (15).

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vagizov, F., Antonov, V., Radeonychev, Y. et al. Coherent control of the waveforms of recoilless γ-ray photons. Nature 508, 80–83 (2014).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing